Bullpen Report: July 8, 2013

Joe Nathan is on quite a tear at the moment after pitching a perfect ninth picking up two Ks along the way tonight for his 30th save of the year, sharing the league lead with the one and only Jim Johnson. Nathan lowered his ERA to 1.40 and hasn’t given up a run in his last eleven appearances, striking out 14 batters in those 11.1 innings. Nathan’s strikeouts have dipped a little this year (9.53 K/9) compared to last (10.91) K/9 but since posting a particularly low rate in April (7.30 K/9), he’s upped it in each subsequent month. Nathan might not finish 2013 with an ERA starting with a one, but he’s still a top option for saves both in real life and our fantasies.

• As Colin mentioned yesterday, Vinnie Pestano has been struggling and he’s now been replaced by Joe Smith as the eighth inning guy in Cleveland. Chris Perez is healthy and back in the ninth for Cleveland, but if something were to happen to him (again) Joe Smith should receive the save opportunity while Pestano sorts out his problems.

• With what I’m assuming were a few scouts in attendance, Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 19th save of the season tonight, albeit by giving up two runs along the way. Even after today’s outing, Papelbon’s ERA still stands at 2.27 and although his strikeout rate has gone down (7.57 K/9 in 2013; 11.83 in 2012) and his peripheral numbers aren’t as impressive (3.43/3.96 FIP/xFIP) Papelbon is still one of the “surest things” among relievers. If/when the Phillies throw in the towel on 2013, his name will be mentioned in trade rumors. However, Ken Rosenthal insists the Phillies won’t trade players that will be part of their future but assuming he comes to his senses on the value of closers on losing teams, Papelbon’s name should be popular over the next few weeks.

Grant Balfour‘s perfect save season continued as he’s now 23/23 on save opportunities. Balfour won’t be going to Citi Field for the Mid-Summer classic yet but if teammate Bartolo Colon (who won his 12th game tonight) doesn’t make it to Queens, Balfour could make it as a replacement. He’s probably not deserving on the Sabermetric friendly All-Star team but 23/23 with a 1.77 ERA is still pretty darn good and he deserves some recognition.

• Assuming Fernando Rodney shoots exactly one arrow in the air after each save, he has now shot 20 arrows this year after shutting the door on the Twins this evening. He only faced two batters but with 20 saves, a 11.81 K/9 and a decreasing albeit poor walk rate (5.79 BB/9) Joel Peralta owners expecting to see the ninth inning can stop those expectations. Rodney isn’t necessarily top tier but he’s certainly cemented again in the ninth inning and should remain a solid option for fantasy teams for the remainder of the year.

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell J.J. Putz David Hernandez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg James Russell Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Matt Thornton Nate Jones Jesse Crain
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Rex Brothers Wilton Lopez
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Drew Smyly Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Hector Ambriz Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Tim Collins Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Robert Coello Ryan Madson
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson John Axford
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Justin De Fratus Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

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Thoughts on Strop in Chicago? Russell has been struggling some this year and if Strop can harness the control, he has legit closer stuff. I know Svuem already talked up Parker but that was pre-trade.


erratic as well.